I recently wrote a blog post about “Strategy-Free Webinar Tactics” where I cautioned against concentrating on implementation details without first thinking about the objectives behind them. I mentioned things such as slide design, use of polls, and appearing on camera while presenting.
It occurs to me that I overlooked an even more important application of the same advice at a much higher level. When you first start thinking about hosting a webinar, webcast, or web conference do you ask yourself what your goal is? You should!
You can’t possibly create effective marketing, content, and follow up (much less measure the success of your efforts) if you don’t have a clear and unambiguous statement of intent to guide you and your team. Intent is different for each and every webinar, and needs to be explicit.
Let’s take an example. Assume you work in marketing. Many (if not most) marketers gauge the success of their webinars by looking at the number of registrants and attendees. Some go a little further and add lead qualification scores. A few take their analysis all the way to an examination of how many attendees eventually complete a sale. But are those the right measures of success? It depends on what that particular webinar was supposed to accomplish.
Looking at the number of registrants is a reasonable measurement tactic if your intent is to increase the number of contacts in your house list or marketing contacts database. But even then, shouldn’t you be examining how many NEW contacts you collected?
If the intent of the webinar is to foster retention of existing customers, that would call for a different choice of topic, structure of content, and type of follow up than in the previous case. And the measurement of success might now be actual attendance rates, perhaps matched against customer value or renewal rates. A customer who registers but doesn’t attend (or at least view the recording) has received no extra influence or persuasion from you.
Is the intent of the webinar to get prospects into the sales pipeline? Or is it to actually drive attendees to complete a purchase? These goals have different calls to action at the end of the presentation and need different channels for following up, as well as different tactical measurements to calculate the webinar’s success in achieving those goals.
Let’s shift to a training example. Organizations offer training all the time. Few ever stop to ask what the purpose is. You can’t justify the time, cost, and effort put into development and delivery of a class if you don’t know the strategic reason for offering it. Are you trying to generate goodwill? Stimulate additional usage of your company’s services or products? Provide a perception of value for an annual membership or maintenance fee? Reduce demands upon your support department? Knowing WHY you offer the training helps you determine HOW to plan, prepare, deliver, and measure it.
This exercise trickles down to everyday peer-level meetings. You may be holding a web conference with a customer, with team members, or with employees. Just as with a public webinar, your very first task before ever scheduling the session is to make sure you are clear on the reason behind the meeting. How will you decide afterwards whether you successfully achieved your objective?
Watch out for falling into the trap of answering the wrong question. It is easy to ask yourself “Why am I holding this webinar?” and answer it with: “To allow customers from all over the world to attend without traveling to our location.” That tells you why you chose a webinar over an in-person session, which is simply a tactical decision that was made in order to further a higher-level business goal. Move up the conceptual chain and refocus on what that business goal was.